Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic had a brief brush with disaster before claiming her second consecutive women’s discus gold, successfully defending her London 2012 title despite fouling five of her six throws in the Rio 2016 final.
A very warm favourite heading into the battle for the medals, the 26-year-old reigning European champion was on the brink of early elimination after failing to register with her first two throws. Shaking off any nerves she might have felt, Perkovic dug deep to hurl her third effort 69.21m and retain her crown, eventually taking gold by a margin of 2.48m from France’s 37-year-old Melina Robert-Michon and Cuba’s world champion Denia Caballero.
Only the second woman to successfully defend an Olympic discus title, Perkovic had this to say afterwards: “I came to this competition really prepared, and after London I started dreaming about this moment. All that was in my head was the only thing I have been doing in the past four years and the people who have believed in me. All my anger was in that throw, and after that throw I started competing.”
Looking to the future already, the newly crowned two-time champion said: “Melina Robert-Michon from France threw a new national record and is a silver medallist and is 37-years-old. She’s a big motivation for me to keep going 10 more years. I don’t want to give up. I just want to continue and work like I did before.”
In setting a national record of 66.73 metres to claim her silver, Robert-Michon became France’s oldest ever Olympic track and field medal winner. “I’m so happy. I’ve worked so hard to get it,” said the veteran thrower. “I’ve already won a world and European medal, and today I won an Olympic one. It’s the dream of all athletes who win an Olympic medal, because it’s above all medals.”
In collecting the bronze, Caballero, who surprisingly beat Perkovic to gold at last year’s world championships, secured her country’s third successive medal in the event. “I wanted a gold medal but I will take any colour. It will not be my last Olympics,” vowed the Cuban.